BBQs leave patches of burnt grass all over Meadows

The Meadows are a popular spot when the sun shines. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Meadows are a popular spot when the sun shines. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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CAMPAIGNERS have urged sunworshippers to “respect” the rules of the Meadows after dozens of barbecue scorch marks were left during the heatwave.

The long-running debate about whether barbecues should be permitted in the park flared up again as revellers made the most of the sunny weather.

Heather Goodare, of Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links (Fombl), said there had been a “carcinogenic haze” across the Meadows as the city basked in 20C heat.

She called on people to use approved concrete barbecue sites, rather than place disposable cooking trays directly on the grass.

Park users have even been spotted using the cricket pitch and golf greens for their outdoor meals.

Mrs Goodare, convener of the heritage group, said: “Grass is flammable, and burnt grass takes at least a year to re-grow. Our volunteers have spent a lot of time that could have been better spent on other tasks in re-turfing barbecue burns.

“Some areas are out of bounds to barbecues – cricket pitches, golf courses, and particularly golf greens – but elsewhere too it is simply antisocial to burn the grass. We should treasure our beautiful Meadows, and not spoil them in this thoughtless way.”

The pensioner said that sun-worshippers would not think about cooking on Princes Street Gardens, and argued that the Meadows should be no different.

While the council’s environmental wardens patrol the area, Mrs Goodare said that most of the damage is done after their shifts finish – for example after 6pm on weeknights, and late afternoon during weekends.

She has been out in the park over the past few days to hand out leaflets, highlighting issues around barbecue use and the associated litter. Mrs Goodare has also taken to donning oven gloves to remove smouldering barbecues from the grass safely.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment leader, said: “Our parks are fantastic places to enjoy the summer weather but I would like to remind everyone to respect others and the local environment when taking advantage of green spaces.

“Designated barbecue sites are available in the Meadows in order to protect the grass so I would urge people to use these.

“Dropping litter and having barbecues outwith the designated areas is prohibited in our park management rules and environmental wardens carry out regular patrols to enforce this.”

Members of Fombl, who volunteer on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links and aim to protect the space, have long been opponents of barbecue use.

In March 2013, the council ruled out enforcing a ban on barbecues in the park, claiming more money would be needed to fund the additional manpower of policing the area during hot spells. The local authority also said that extra money would have to be spent on training wardens to carry and operate fire extinguishers.

City leaders instead drew up new park management rules to restrict barbecuing to designated sites, while prohibiting areas where they are likely to burn or scorch the ground or disturb other users or residents.

On sunny days it is estimated that up to 10,000 people can gather on the Meadows and Links, and it was suggested a minimum of 16 environmental wardens working in pairs would have been needed to enforce any ban.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com